I am a writer. I write in my journal, I write press releases for the library, I write blog posts, and I write fanfiction.
Fanfiction is something I have devoted almost 20 years of my life, too. I am a fangirl at heart and my way to fangirl is to become so obsessed with a pairing on a favorite show that I have to write about them. A lot.
On AO3 I have a total of 145 works. Mostly Marvel and Game of Thrones. That’s not counting the stories I have written for other fandoms in other venues besides AO3. I would guess I am in the ballpark of at least 200+ fanfics.
I’ve dabbled in Original Fiction, but I’ve never completed one.
And now, this year, I am determined to. I started a couple weeks ago, but on this day, May 25, 2021 I am making this declaration: I will write – and finish! – over the course of the next year an OF that I will eventually submit to be published.
All right, here’s the thing: I am not a “write everyday” kind of person. I tried real hard to do that, but it just became another “have to” in my day and, because I have not been loving my story and started to find all the flaws in it, it became something I dreaded. Are you supposed to dread the thing you’re writing?
I’ve always imagined writers sitting down to work on their novel all excited and yet good-naturedly groaning about the work they have to put in. I think of Stephen King who just sits and bangs out six pages a day. Then I think of George R.R. Martin who agonizes over every word, every paragraph, and wonders if he’s any good. I just remembered I shared that picset of the both of them talking about their process.
I want to be Stephen King, and with fanfic I was. But I suppose when it comes to Original Fiction I am GRRM. And considering he will probably die before he finishes A Dream of Spring, I will most likely die before I finish Knuckleheads.
Right now I am just looking to write anything that I am interested in. Yesterday I managed to write 445 words of a story that came to me while meditating. When I finished writing to go to bed I actually thought that I could have written more. So I’m just gonna follow this train and see where it takes me.
I think it’s great to listen to the advice of successful writers and even “try on” what they advise, but ultimately, you have to do what works for you. Writing every day and writing what was not working for me was hard and then I just stopped completely. That worked because I actually started to miss writing and the story a little.
I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire at work. I’m fitting in reading and meditating every evening. I read for enjoyment, yes, but I also read to see how other authors write so I can hone my craft.
All that to say that I think I need to cut myself some slack. I have to be creative and “on” at work, so I need to decompress when I get home. Writing every day was not conducive to that. But again, it was a project that I wasn’t all that into anymore and so who knows, maybe once I get going on this new story I’ll want to try it every day.
Changed plot points a couple times but have now have a solid direction I feel good about.
Fleshed out Tess a bit more.
Decided I needed to introduce her before the end of Chapter 2.
Realizing now that I really need to flesh out Lucas more…hmmmm
I’ve noticed that when I am nervous about writing – because I’m afraid it’ll suck or that I will produce nothing – I procrastinate. Suddenly, I just have to do the dishes in the sink, or it’s time to get to that house project I have put off for months. While that’s good for my habitat, it’s not good for me as a writer.
Every time I meditate now I set the intention of pushing through writers block and fear of writing. It seems to be working??? Sort of???
I struggle at the outset of sitting down to write and think – okay, this is hard and I want to give up. However, when I finally manage to get something down, the writing comes easier. Last night, for example, I wrote over 1500 words!
And! And! I have foregone doing other things, like watching a show, to write! That is huge. I am keeping to my commitment! And even though I have not written here for 10 days, I am not abandoning this blog. I am just focusing on the novel.
A friend of mine told me about Scapple. I am intrigued by this kind of mind mapping that I have always wanted to do for the direction of my life. I did briefly look into seeing if there was a free fiction mapping tool. I tried one, couldn’t figure it out, and abandoned it. If anyone knows, please let me know. However, Scapple is only $18 and that seems worth it if this writing thing is going to be, ya know, a thing.
I signed up for Camp Nanowrimo, which starts in July, because I figure any tool I can use to stay the course is a good thing. I’ve even told someone that is not my friend that I’m writing a book! Putting it out there makes it feel more real. I also feel that it’ll help keep me honest because I don’t want to say if someone should ask me “How’s the book coming along?” that “It’s not”.
I seemed to have abandoned all thoughts of fanfiction entirely and I actually feel rather good about that. Too much fandom is not good. It messes with your head. It feels good to write something that’s not only all mine, but to fall in love with my characters. Tess is the woman I always wanted to be. Lucas is the guy I’d like to date. Also, it feels good to write something at my own pace and not feel the pressure of people asking when I’ll update or putting a chapter out there and fretting about comments and kudos and all that other crap. The saying that comparison is the death of creativity is absolutely true. I’m fine with not sharing this with anyone aside from my friend. I just want to practice the craft of writing and developing a story from the ground up.
Okay, so last night I had my temper tantrum about my story. I was real pissy about it and honestly I even cried a little. I talked it out with a friend who had to deal with my grumpy ass (I’m sorry), and while I knew I was not going to give up on writing altogether, I had to find another angle that worked in my mind.
If something isn’t clicking for me, and doesn’t make sense to me, then how can I expect my readers to understand it?
I wallowed like a boss, I slept on it, and woke up to the same friend tossing out some more ideas. I decided to give it a go. Shift the angle of the story, and see where it takes me.
I’m happy to report that it’s already going way better. Not so many stops and starts and characters were coming into my head as I was writing them.
Is this what it’s like for a medium?
I am nothing if not determined, and though I considered jumping ship for maybe half a second or half of half of a second, I knew, in my heart, that I couldn’t do it. I’ve come this far, I made this promise to myself and I have to keep going.
I expected there would be hiccups along the way, and some temper tantrums. I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner.
It’s not clicking for me. I have too many plot holes that I can’t explain away and something just isn’t clicking. I’ve rewritten so many times and I’m still not making headway because I have too many “this would never happen” thoughts.
At least I’m writing this I guess.
I’m really grumpy about this, the kind of grumpy where I want to cry and I hate everything. Everything sounds stupid and is stupid and I’m just frustrated.
I want to work on my story, book, novel, whatever it’s called, and yet I am crippled by the thought that
The good news is I don’t want to throw in the towel, but maybe put it away for a couple days and come back to it with fresh eyes. Even as I write this I know that’s not going to happen. I’m going to open it again and tinker with it.
I can’t keep editing the same two chapters for weeks on end. I just can’t. I need to practice just writing and not overthinking every damn thing. I have a whole book to capture these characters and build the story. I don’t need to get it all in in two chapters. So why am I stressing out so much about this? Why can’t I just WRITE?
It’s the thing I can’t stop thinking about and yet dread. Is this what it’s like for every author? Maybe part of it is that I went from famine to feast – I haven’t been able to write anything much in months and then I was like you know what I should do? I should write a book. I mean, who does that? I like challenges, but seriously.
I can’t stop now though. It will not be yet another thing I abandon. I’m going to finish this sucker. I’m going to get it published, and then Ben Barnes will play Lucas.
I will be the Little Engine that Did.
ETA: I just reworked Chapter One again. Took out about 575 words – that I saved in another doc! Changed some dialogue around, added some dialogue, and just worked on the flow. I feel SO MUCH BETTER.
I didn’t write yesterday. It felt so weird not to. I felt like I should have at least opened this blog to write something, but I didn’t. Writers are supposed to write every day and I did not. However, I am not going to be hard on myself about it. I am just taking note that after just a week of writing daily, it felt weird to skip a day.
Today, I was determined to write and even though it is late, I managed to eek out several paragraphs in the first chapter of the book. I finally tackled the geography of my made up town which is based on the town I grew up in, South Hadley, MA. I did research about the area – population, square feet, and if there were farms. South Hadley is in the western part of the state and is often referred to as cow country. I have fond memories of visiting McCray’s Farm with my parents and petting the goats, sheep, horses, and pigs. After, we’d get an ice cream with the smell of manure in the distance. I remember it was always muddy there, and now I am thinking these are the details I should add.
It took a lot of reworking over and over again to get it right, and I am still not sure if it is. I figure I can look again tomorrow with fresh eyes.
I worry about putting too much information and at the same time, not enough. I mean, this is a book not a short story so I can stretch some things out into other chapters. I don’t have to do info dumps right away. Just enough to place the reader in the story.
Now that I’ve gotten past some of the stuff I was having difficulty writing, I feel a bit more confident in being able to push the story forward.
A couple times today I wondered if this story was worth writing, if I was biting off more than I could chew, and if my inability to not even close Chapter One meant this wasn’t the story for me. I mean, how much of this do I have to massage? I always imagined when I sat down to write a book it would flow out of me effortlessly. I see myself in a montage kind of situation where it’s just flashes of me typing away with a smile on my face. I suppose though, this is the reality. It’s work.
It’s simultaneously irritating and rewarding??? Does that make sense?
So, one persistent thought I kept having today was that I needed some tension and obstacles. Let me rephrase: I needed MORE tension and obstacles. So I’ve figured out a plan for that.
I have written a lot over the past few days of which I am very pleased. Since I have two docs going for this – one being the beginning of the story and the other being not exactly the middle, but definitely not the beginning, I opened up the beginning doc and jotted down notes as I’ve thought of them of where I want the reader to be by the time they get to the middle-ish.
I’m still overthinking things a bit I think. Every word I question. Every sentence I wonder if I am headed in the right direction. I never worried this much when it came to fanfic. This is what I keep thinking about.
I used to think I was a Stephen King. Not six pages, but at least 2-3 a day. Well over 1,000 words. But when it comes to this project, I’m more George RR Martin.
What I am writing is something I want to write, but will other people like it? Writers are never without their doubts I guess and now, as I sit here writing this, I think of how large this feels. It’s such a big project I’ve committed myself to and I worry that at some point I’ll quit.
I planned to journal every day and I quit that after maybe 2 weeks. I had a gratitude journal that I did for maybe a month. So many things I’ve thought of in which I said “I’m going to do this and I’m going to stick to it”, only to not stick to it at all.
Watching Ben Barnes movies is keeping me pretty motivated, but my obsessions come and go so often I wonder when this one will dry up. Not like it used to be in my 20s when an obsession could last for months or even years.
I saw a meme once that said spite was a reason for doing things and I think that’s where I’m at. To even spite myself for thinking I can’t keep myself committed to this. And definitely to those trolls who said I’m not good enough and that I am a terrible writer. I know I’m not. And I think that’s okay to say. Too often we don’t acknowledge our talents and if we say we are a good writer, artist, musician, etc., then we are bragging and people look down on braggarts. We become labeled arrogant.
Then, on the other hand, we tell people that they should own what they are good at and flaunt it. Use it.
I think you can acknowledge you can do something well – not perfect (it doesn’t exist) – and have that be an okay thing to do. I mean, there is a certain group (white men) who have got the confidence to say they’re awesome when they’re really mediocre, so why can’t I, or any woman, own their talents? I don’t have to be awesome, but I just have to be awesome enough to write this book and finish it. And then get it published.
I’ve also decided to keep track of my word count each day from now on. Just as an incentive.
Making a Pinterest board for Tess and Lucas helped me find the Tess I was looking for.
Yep, she’s plus-sized! Ish. I just really like her look. And the dress.
Also, as Pinterest kept tossing things at me, like it does, I started to veer off into other areas. It became “What would Tess put on her Pinterest board?” As a result I came up with a few of her traits: very organized, obviously into plus size fashion since she owns a plus size consignment shop, and she’d have a very cozy and girly apartment.
Lucas, my nerd, would have geeky things on his and board, but he wouldn’t make a board because he doesn’t like social media. Even though he works for Google. Probably why he doesn’t like it!
It also helped me come up with a title, a variation of one I used for a fanfic: Knuckleheads.
I would have thought this would have helped me finish Chapter One! But no. I spent at least a half hour writing and rewriting a description of the fake Massachusetts town the story is set in just trying to get Tess into her small but adorable apartment.
I decided I’d had enough of that business because it was s l o w i n g me down and I just wanted to get to the good stuff, which was Lucas surprising his buddy Tess with a visit. (He is living in CA at the start of this).
Typically, I am linear in my writing. And I don’t like to veer off from that even though I give that advice to others. I need the dots to connect so I can figure out what information I’m putting in and where.
My brain was not having it, nor were my creative juices. They wanted to jump to the good parts, so jump I did. I got one and a half pages compared to the three paragraphs I was struggling to write. Woo hoo!
I figure I can make notes of details I need to add in to the story later and just connect them all. This is about writing for me, and not having to do things the traditional way like, ya know, start from the beginning. World-building is not my friend. I’m much more comfortable getting into the meat of the story.
I stayed up later than I like to on a weeknight (until 11 pm), and decided to go to bed. Yet I could not stop plotting in my head. And when I say plot I mean dialogue and full on scenes. I’d doze off and wake up to do it again. And again. And again.
It’s why I am dragging ass today. I should have just said “fuck it” and gotten my laptop to write until my little heart was content and all the words were out of my head and onto the page.
I’m going to try my best to get some writing in today, but even if I don’t, I have done more in the past week than I have in…I can’t even remember the last time I wrote anything creative. (This counts though??)
Will it suck? Maybe? Will I mold and nurture it until it doesn’t? YES.
I’ve put it out there. I made the declaration. I am a writer who writes, and so I shall write.
So in fanfic the beginning was always my favorite. Here it was, a fresh page that I was going to fill with my awesome idea. It was exciting. Thrilling. And, because I knew the characters I was going to write about already, I didn’t have to come up with their core personality. I mean, sometimes I played around with their characterization – brought out some attributes more, lessened others, and maybe sometimes delved into OOC (out of character). But, the characters were always recognizable.
However, this creating a character from scratch business? Fuuuck meeee.
Also, I am used to having the bare bones of how I want the story to go, what I want to happen, and how it will end, while allowing for some (or a lot) of detours along the way.
The author of Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, Matthew Dicks, said in a library program that I attended that he just creates a character and follows them around to see what they do.
I’ve always thought of myself as that kind of writer. He encapsulated my process so perfectly that I thought – Yes! No outlines! This is what I do! This published author just gave me the thumbs up on continuing in this way!
But for some reason I’m finding that to be difficult now. ???
Can I do that same thing with an OF (original fiction) though? I kind of feel like I can’t??? And it’s stressing me out.
When it was fanfiction it was balls to the wall, I’m going to write this thing and it’s going to be epic and I’m so excited to go on this journey. Yup, I said it. Journey. Because it is. Would it sound less New Age-y to say adventure? Probably. Okay, let’s go with adventure.
So, here is what I did before starting:
Lots of thinking.
Discussed with a friend my ideas.
Considered an outline, then remembered I hate outlines.
Looked up character sheets to fill out and then got scared by them.
Looked up pictures on Google for what I picture my characters to look like.
Began fangirling so hard about Ben Barnes that I decided Lucas was going to look like him.
Tess, on the other hand, is a little fuzzy in my mind. I found a picture of an impish redhead that I thought I would use, but she keeps morphing in my mind so I’m not sure anymore. I just really know I want Lucas to look like Ben Barnes.
Because I mean…
Okay, I think I got that out of my system. (Not at all). Where was I? Oh yes, the planning process.
Thought about making a playlist on Spotify to capture and build the characters.
Thought about a Pinterest board.
Started Idea #1 and hated it.
Started Idea #2 and got somewhere. But then got stuck.
Fleshed out Idea #2 with my friend and rewrote the beginning.
So here I am
My dudes, I am not even done with Chapter One yet! But! I have like 1500 words so I guess that’s something???
I am the type of person that when I was given a paper to write in college I expected it to be done yesterday. If it wasn’t done at least a week before paper was due I would panic. All nighters writing papers? No way. I love and covet sleep wayyyy too much to do that thank-you-very-much.
With fanfiction, you write a chapter at a time and you post. You get feedback. It was instant validation (but it had a dark side and that’s probably a story for another blog). But this OF thing? I have one friend I’m sharing it with. I’m actually okay with that, but I think I’m already overthinking everything.
With fanfic, it was easy for me to get into a groove of writing. But I’ve been so off fanfic the past year (Thank you, Game of Thrones, for ruining my mojo), that I feel like I forgot how to write.
Or maybe it’s just that I know this is a book, this is something I want to submit for publication, that I’m editing too much in my head already and haven’t found my groove.
Or I really need that Pinterest board to flesh out my characters and the plot.